The Racing Journal Logo

$200K Longacres Mile draws full field, Stryker Phd bids to join elite company

August 13, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

Stryker Phd puts on a show in the Mt. Rainier Handicap on July 19
(photo by Emerald Downs)
Defending champion Stryker Phd heads a full field of 12 older horses in the 80th running of the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on Sunday, August 16, at Emerald Downs.

Stryker Phd drew the #7 post-position at Wednesday’s annual Longacres Mile Draw Breakfast, with regular rider Leslie Mawing named to ride the 123-lb. high-weight. Track line maker Rob Rao installed the defending champion as the 9-to-5 favorite, followed by California invaders Alert Bay (4-to-1) and Sammy Mandeville (9-to-2).

The Longacres Mile goes as the seventh race with post time 5:35 p.m.

Unbeaten in his last six starts at Emerald Downs including a half-length victory in the 2014 Mile, Stryker Phd bids to join Amble In (1946, 1948), Trooper Seven (1980-81) and Simply Majestic (1988-89) as two-time winners of The Mile. He also would become the first to accomplish the feat at Emerald Downs.

Trained by Larry Ross for owners Jim and Mona Hour of Bellevue, Wash., Stryker Phd is beginning to challenge Noosa Beach for unofficial title of greatest horse in track history. A 6-year-old Washington-bred by Bertrando-Striking Scholar, he’s running in his third straight Mile and is unbeaten here since finishing runner-up to Herbie D in the 2013 Mile.

In last year’s race, Stryker Phd came from last to defeat Boyett by a half-length in 1:33.67. In two starts this year, Stryker Phd defeated Noosito by a neck in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap and beat Absolutely Cool by six lengths in the 1-1/16-mile Mt. Rainier Handicap.

“He worked really good last Sunday and he looked good on the track today,”said assistant trainer Sharon Ross. “We just have to make sure nothing happens to him between now and the race.”

Alert Bay enjoyed a remarkable 2014 season, winning six stakes and nearly $600,000 for trainer Blaine Wright and owner Peter Redekop of Vancouver, B.C. A 4-year-old California-bred by City Zip, Alert Bay drew the No. 8 post and will be ridden by Rico Walcott at 122 lbs.

“His (two) races so far this year don't indicate that he's back to his 3-year-old form,” Wright said. “He's trained very smart for this race. Hopefully he can come back here and get back to good form again.

“The Mile has always been on our radar since we turned him out last year,” Wright added. “It's been a focal point for us and maybe he'll make a good showing.”

Longacres Mile notes

—14 horses entered the race, with high weights preferred. Botch, low-weighted at 114 lbs was excluded, and a draw was held between three horses weighted at 115 lbs—Prohibition, Solemnly Swear and Scat Daddybaby—with Scat Daddybaby the odd-man out.

—The Southern California contingent of Sammy Mandeville, Majestic City and Prohibition are scheduled to arrive by van Thursday morning.

—For the third time in their last four Mile starts, trainer Dino Condilenios and owner Swift Thoroughbreds drew the dreaded No. 12 post-position. Track announcer Matt Dinerman drew the pill in absentia for the Canadians, and pulled No. 12. Last year, Shooting Jacket finished fifth out of the No. 12 post for Condilenios, and in 2010 Burj Dubai finished 11th out of the 12-hole.

—Assessment in 2009 and Coldwater in 1935 are the only horses to win from post- position 12.

—Only two horses are back from last year’s Mile: Stryker Phd and seventh-place finisher Prohibition.

—Five trainers in this year’s race are previous Mile winners: Doris Harwood, Tom Wenzel, Doug O’Neill, Mike Puhich and Larry Ross. Three owners previously won the race: Jim & Mona Hour (Stryker Phd), Jeff Harwood (Noosito) and North American Thoroughbred Racing Co. (Taylors Deal, Solemnly Swear). Only two jockeys are previous Mile winners: Juan Gutierrez and Leslie Mawing.

—A victory by Absolutely Cool, Del Rio Harbor, Noosito or Stryker Phd would tie Washington-breds with Kentucky for most wins in the race. Heading into the 80th running, Kentucky-breds rank No. 1 with 21 wins, followed by Washington with 20 and California with 16.

—Doug O’Neill (Sammy Mandeville) and Richard Baltas (Majestic City) currently rank first and third in the Del Mar trainers’ standings.

—Fleet Eagle ran the meet’s fastest 6½ furlongs, 1:14.27, while winning the May 17 Governor’s Handicap by 6¾ lengths. Fleet Eagle’s 99 Beyer is largest by any horse at the 2015 meet; Stryker Phd earned a 97 in the Budweiser Handicap and a 94 in the Mt. Rainier.